inspection framework proposals.
Plans for a radical overhaul of the school inspection system have
published by the Office for Standards in Education and the Department
for Education and Skills today.
Three quarters of respondents to Ofsted's future of inspection
consultation document, published in February 2004, supported the
proposals for shorter, more frequent school inspections at less
notice. Ofsted received a total of 1,377 responses to consultation,
with 63% of responses coming from schools and 9% from parents.
Chief inspector of schools, David Bell, said:
'After 12 years of Ofsted inspections, millions of pupils have
benefited from improvements in the quality and standard of education
in our schools. It is now time to build on the progress achieved
over the last decade by moving to a lighter touch, but equally
rigorous inspection regime with school self-evaluation at its heart.'
The original proposals, part of the government's drive to modernise
the accountability of schools and to create a new, more professional
relationship with schools, outlined Ofsted's plans to introduce
shorter, sharper, inspections focused on helping schools improve
while reducing the burden of inspection, and ensuring that parents
benefit from more timely and relevant school reports.
During consultation, Ofsted sought views on its intention to:
* inspect schools at least every three years to ensure parents
benefit from more up-to-date information about the quality of
education received by their child
* significantly cut the length of inspections to reduce the burden on
* reduce the notification period ahead of inspection to the shortest
possible period to allow inspectors a 'warts-and-all' view of the
* assess the contribution of the school to the outcomes for children
and young people set out in Every Child Matters
The DfES and Ofsted, today published A New Relationship With Schools
highlighting updated proposals for the government's new relationship
with schools and the future of inspection. The report adds more
detail to the shape and outline of inspection following the results
of the public consultation. Key new features incorporated in the
proposed framework include:
* giving between two and five working days' notice before an
inspection to ensure reports give a real, unvarnished view of the
school. In exceptional cases, inspectors may turn up unannounced;
* using a clear four-point grading scale in reports, and simplifying
the approach to schools causing concern: keeping the current approach
to schools that need special measures but introducing a new
improvement notice for other schools where there are weaknesses;
* a greater emphasis on school self-evaluation. The focus of a school
inspection will be driven by the strengths and weaknesses identified
by a school in its self-evaluation form which will replace the four
short forms that schools are currently required to complete prior to
* the publication of inspection reports to schools within three weeks
of inspection, compared to four to five months at present;
* Her Majesty's Inspectors playing a role in all school inspections;
* the inspection of curriculum areas via a rolling program of
'subject-focused studies' with a full report on each subject every
two to three years. For each study a sample of schools will be
selected to reflect sector, size, phase and different geographical
Today's report also highlights Ofsted's plans to ensure parental
involvement in the school inspection process. Early pilot
inspections are trialling methods including web page forums and
inviting parents to write to inspectors at the school.
Ofsted is conducting a number of pilot inspections in 14 local
education authorities to test the proposals in the future of
inspection consultation document. One headteacher of a pilot school
'The inspection was a positive experience for us. We welcomed the
team's openness in sharing the initial notes and in meeting regularly
with the senior management team to discuss findings and clarify
'The team's methodology involved us as partners in the inspection
process to a greater extent than before. We felt that our
professional assessments (as expressed in the self-evaluation form
and during the inspection) were understood and respected.
'Even though the inspection was shorter, it was rigorous and clearly
focused and the team's observations were perceptive and informative.
The feedback was stimulating and has already improved work on
developments to move the school forward.'
Pilots will continue over the summer and early autumn before Ofsted
launches a further consultation on the details of the inspection
process. Subject to parliamentary approval, new inspections could
start from September 2005.
Mr Bell added:
'Information about schools has become more sophisticated over recent
years. It is time that the school inspection system evolves to
reflect this. Today's proposals will help reduce the burden on
schools whilst ensuring that parents benefit from more frequent
information about the quality and standard of education provided by
schools. I am confident that our new plans for inspection will be a
force for improvement in our schools.'
Speechby David Bell at the launch of A New Relationship with Schools